Views & Reviews Starting Out

End the silence on animal products in drugs

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 05 February 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f722

Re: End the silence on animal products in drugs

In 2004 a medical student colleague, Simon Crouch, and myself conducted a survey on attitudes towards the use of animal products in intravenous fluids. 361 questionnaires were issued to fourth year medical students at Guys, Kings and St Thomas Hospital medical schools. 283 were returned indicating a response rate of 78%.

Only 29% of medical students were aware that some IV fluids contain animal products. Overall, 10% of students would not accept fluids containing gelatin, based on their dietary requirements. However, this figure was much higher for those on Halal, no beef or vegetarian diet, where the figure was close to 30% overall. We also surveyed acceptance of fluids containing gelatin based on the students religious beliefs. Here, 30% of Sikh, Muslim and Hindu medical students would not accept gelatin.

In view of the fact that there are suitable alternative fluids, patients should give consent, wherever possible, to receive fluids containing animal products.

Competing interests: No competing interests

12 February 2013
David.W Green
Consultant anaesthetist
Kings college hospital
Denmark Hill, London, SE5 9RS